Picking good and valuable domain names.

iCloud.com sold for $4.5 Million

iCloud.com is a cloud hosting service for Apple iPhone and Mac customers. You may sign in to iCloud to access your photos, videos, documents, notes, contacts, and more. Use your Apple ID or create a new account to start using Apple services.

iCloud Trademark Applications

Xcerion AB first applied to register ICLOUD on Aug. 14, 2008, in application SN 79056140 for:

Computer programs for information management, [ for creating spreadsheets, tables, graphs and charts and for organizing and analyzing data, ] for word processing, [ for creation and display of presentations including text and graphics, ] for electronic mail [ and instant messaging services, ] for calendar and meeting scheduling, [ for desktop publishing, for project management, for business planning, for direct mail and business financial management, ] for online document collaboration, storage [ and editing services, ] for viewing and organizing audio-visual content such as music, video and photos, [ for creating and administrating online communities and groups, for creating and maintaining personal blogs, ] for online sharing of any digital content, [ for developing and testing new computer software, ] and for working as an operating system for integrating and aggregating online software applications and data to run in a single user interface on one computer [; computer software for use as operating systems for embedded processors for application virtual machines, process virtual machines, and platform-independent machines; software for creating a virtual machine environment, performing process virtualization, interpreting semantic application code, and abstracting network resources ]

which was based on an application for a trademark registration they filed in Sweden on November 29, 2007.
As a foreign applicant, Xcerion was entitled to register their Swedish trademark in the USPTO without building any website or using the trademark in the USA. While some countries require trademark use to obtain a trademark registration, such as the USA, not all countries do. For example, no use needs to be alleged in EU trademark applications nor in many countries in the EU.
Xcerion’s USPTO trademark application failed to properly identify themselves and their services, so their trademark application was initially refused. The examining attorney wrote the following in their office action:


The application does not include applicant’s “Legal Nature” and “Legal Nature:  Place Incorporated.”  Applicant must specify its entity type (“Legal Nature”) and citizenship (“Place Incorporated”).  37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3); TMEP §§803.03, 803.04.

Acceptable entity types include an individual, a partnership, a corporation or a joint venture.  See 37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3); TMEP §§803.03 et seq.

If applicant’s entity type is an individual, applicant must indicate his or her national citizenship for the record.  37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3)(i); TMEP §803.04.  If applicant’s entity type is a corporation or association, applicant must set forth the country under whose laws applicant is organized or incorporated.  37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3)(ii); TMEP §§803.03(c), 803.04.  If applicant’s entity type is a partnership or joint venture, applicant must specify the country under whose laws the partnership or joint venture is organized.  37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3)(ii)-(iii); TMEP §§803.03(b), 803.04.


The identification of goods is indefinite and must be clarified.  See TMEP §1402.01.  Applicant must specify the common commercial or generic name for the goods.

Xcerion AB later assigned this trademark application to Apple Inc.
On April 28, 2011, Tech Crunch reported that:
Om Malik got a tip from an unidentified source who told him that Apple purchased the domain name icloud.com from a Swedish company called Xcerion (which recently renamed its iCloud service to CloudMe) for about $4.5 million. This is most certainly a possibility.
Last week, we also received a tip that Apple purchased iCloud.com. I immediately followed up with Xcerion and asked the company whether they changed their name because Apple had purchased the domain name / trademark from them and why they changed their service’s name to CloudMe if that weren’t the case.
Here’s what they replied to me back then:

Hi Robin,
We decided we needed a name change to better reflect our new focus on files and storage, where the desktop is just one of many clients to access files and content stored in CloudMe. Since we a couple of months ago launched our iPhone and Android app, WebDAV and the automatic backup software, Easy Upload for Windows, Mac and Linux, we now have many clients that interact with our users’ content. There also are a lot of third party apps and software supporting the CloudMe online computer.
The virtual desktop and all its apps will continue to be an important piece of our offering and, with this new release, we have increased cross-browser capabilities, speed and stability.
If you have any files to share with me – Just CloudMe 🙂
Best Regards,

As you can tell, they pretty much danced around the main question and mostly promoted their wares, but for what it’s worth, Xcerion clearly claims they decided to change their name as part of an effort to showcase its shifted focus to cloud storage.
Did Apple Buy iCloud.com For $4.5 Million? It's Possible, But …
Apple Inc claimed to have first used their trademark iCloud for

Electronic storage of data, text, images, audio, and video; storage services for archiving electronic data; information and consultation in connection therewith

in their USPTO application for iCloud in SN 85335805 filed on Oct. 12, 2011.

iCloud Trademark Specimen

Apple submitted the following trademark specimen for its application in 2014:
iCloud trademark specimen

iCloud.com Domain Name History

However, when iClould was originally registered on January 15, 1999, it was used to display a single line of Korean Text:
iCloud website: icloud.com home page screenshot 2001 April 19
In 2004, iCloud was used by a Japanese university professor, Insung Jung, for his blog:
iCloud website: icloud.com home page screenshot 2007 February 10
Xcerion AB acquired iCloud.com in either late 2007 or early 2008, according to the Wayback Machine archive.org website.
In early 2008, iCloud.com displayed landing page that is mostly not visible, probably because it was flash based. In 2010, icloud.com had a 302 re-direct command, so the Wayback Machine doesn’t display the actually landing page.
After April 2011, the webpage changed to a bunch of lines until Apple build a website for iCloud.

Foreign and USPTO trademark Increased the Value of iCloud.com

Did Xcerion strategically register a trademark in Sweden before filing in the USA to get the trademark rights to iCloud in the USA and increase the value of their domain name?
Well if Xcerion didn’t register ICLOUD as a trademark, their negotiating position would have been weakened because Apple could have registered icloud.net to run their new iCloud service and bypass Xcerion.
In March of 2011, Xcerion opened up a $3.34 million funding round that went unfunded, according to their TechCrunch profile. In 2017, Xcerion launched an alpha version of their cloud service called CloudTop, available at https://cloudtop.com/.

Holding a domain name without use is not udrp bad faith

In a 2015 case about nanosonics.com under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) before the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a panel has denied a domain name transfer on the basis that there was no UDRP bad faith use, even though the respondent had held the domain name without using it for almost 13 years.
A WIPO panel concluded that passive holding of a domain name does not necessarily mean bad faith.

Factual Background for the UDRP

The Complainant supplies infection control and disinfectant products and services for medical apparatus, particularly ultrasound probes for medical use, under the trademark NANOSONICS. The Complainant is based in Sydney, Australia, and has affiliates in the USA and Europe. It also works with various other service providers around the world, including GE Healthcare in France and other countries, Miele Professional in a number of European countries, Ava Medica in the Russian Federation and Toshiba Medical Systems in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Complainant registered NANOSONICS as a trademark in Australia by an application in May 2000 and in the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Switzerland and the USA pursuant to applications in 2006. The Complainant has also registered a number of domain names with “nanosonics” as the second-level domain (“SLD”).
The Complainant has obtained patents relating to its products and methods in a large number of countries, including France and other European countries.
The Respondent manufactures and sells piezoelectric transducers, particularly for ultrasound diagnostics. It was founded in 1984 and is based in Tours, France. It focuses on designing and producing innovative ultrasound diagnostic products, involving research in the field of nanotechnology.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name in 2002 but has not so far used it or a corresponding name in relation to its products. Since at least 2008, the Domain Name has been directed to a parking page provided by an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”), neoDomaine, which describes itself by the caption “Le service integrale de noms de domaines internet”.
In deciding that there was no bad faith, the panelist wrote:

UDRP Bad Faith Requirement

It is clear from the wording of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the UDRP and has been affirmed by many UDRP decisions that the two conditions of the third requirement, registration in bad faith and use in bad faith, are cumulative. Both must be satisfied, although use in bad faith can be evidence of registration in bad faith, and vice versa.

No Bad Faith

In this case, the Panel is not satisfied on the evidence that the Respondent knew of the rights now asserted by the Complainant when it registered the Domain Name in 2002. There is in fact, no evidence as to the existence, nature or extent of any use of the NANOSONICS trademark at this date. The most that can be said on the evidence provided as to the position at that date is that a predecessor of the Complainant, called Novapharm Research (Australia) Pty Ltd, had registered NANOSONICS as a trademark in Australia. In the Panel’s view, it cannot be inferred that the Respondent in France knew or should have known of this trademark registration at that date.
While the word “nanosonics” is made up, it does consist of descriptive elements, namely “nano” which is widely used in relation to nanotechnology, and “sonics” which is widely used to refer to equipment which emits or detects sounds. It is therefore not inherently improbable that two or more different companies might have independently had the same idea of combining these elements into a name.
Furthermore, even if the Respondent had known of the Australian trademark registration when it registered the Domain Name in 2002, it cannot be inferred based on the limited record before the Panel that it must have had a bad faith intention to use it to infringe the Complainant’s trademark or to trade off or appropriate goodwill associated with it. Without more evidence as to the use (if any) that had been made by the Complainant’s predecessor of the trademark NANOSONICS, it cannot be presumed that any use that might have been made by the Respondent of the Domain Name would have necessarily been objectionable.
The fact that the Respondent does not appear to have had any concrete plans to use the Domain Name and, indeed, has not used it in the 13 years since registering it does not mean that the Respondent necessarily registered it in bad faith. It is in principle legitimate for businesses to register domain names which they reckon they might want to use in good faith, even if this eventuality does not come to pass.
Nor can it be inferred from the evidence provided that the Respondent registered the Domain Name with a view to selling it at a profit to the Complainant’s predecessor or a competitor. In fact, somewhat unusually, the parking page to which the Domain Name has resolved for the last seven years has not presented any offer for sale of the Domain Name. Although the Response seems to accept the Complainant’s allegation to the contrary, the actual text on the page, set out above in the original French, contains no present indication that the Domain Name is for sale.
The website of the ISP, neoDomaine, is not in evidence, but on a limited viewing the Panel did not see any resale service being promoted alongside the services offered of registration, hosting, email redirection, and the like.
There is no evidence of the Respondent making any attempt to solicit a sale of the Domain Name. If its original registration was in good faith, the Respondent would have been entitled to respond to the Complainant’s entreaties years later to sell the domain name. However, the evidence shows that the Respondent ignored numerous invitations from the Complainant to sell the Domain Name and eventually sought a substantial payment before it would begin to discuss the matter. In the Panel’s view, it cannot be inferred from this that the Respondent registered the Domain Name with a view to selling it to the Complainant or the Complainant’s predecessor.
The Panel is also not satisfied that the Respondent is using the Domain Name in bad faith. It is true that passive holding of a domain name can be in bad faith, but it does not follow that all passive holding of a domain name is in bad faith. Merely retaining a domain name which could be used improperly, but without any attempt or intent actually to use it improperly, does not constitute use in bad faith.
In all the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has not proved the third requirement of the UDRP. The Complaint must therefore be rejected.
7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.

Jonathan Turner
Sole Panelist
Date: May 23, 2015
WIPO Domain Name Dispute Case No. D2015-0681  re nanosonics.com

Value Domain

There are a number websites that automatically value domain names, but they are not usually correct. Domain value can be influenced by numerous other factors that algorithms don’t take into account.

Value Domain Names

Value domain names are not cheap domain names. Value domain names are domain names that will rank in Google search results and are worth the time and expense of building out a functional website with content. For example, a given website that ranks well with a first domain name address will not usually rank as well on a new and fresh domain name. While website content and on-page SEO settings are a factor for a website to rank, search engine traffic for an established domain name with an active website will trump a website hosted on a second fresh domain name, even if the first website is deleted to avoid duplicate content on the internet. A domain valuation expert or a domainer may value domain names for businesses. Alternatively, the owner may put the domain name up for auction and the related party may pay an arms-length price through the auction.

Need to Value Domain Names

Accountants often need to value domain names when transferring the asset to a related entity. in the case of a sale of property (whether or not depreciable) between a partnership and a person owning more than 50% of the capital or profit interests in the partnership, or between two commonly controlled partnerships, any gain recognized shall be considered ordinary income if the property is other than a capital asset.

Determining Domain Value

Factors impacting domain value include:

  • The age of a domain name
  • Is the domain name a generic product or category name? Such names tend to be highly sought after by existing businesses.
  • The number of backlinks to pages on a domain name
    • Backlinks are incoming links to a webpage.
    • When a webpage links to any other page, it’s called a backlink.
    • The number of backlinks is a major metric for the ranking of a webpage.
    • A page with a lot of backlinks tends to rank higher on all major search engines, including Google.
    • The quantity and sources of backlinks for a web page are among the factors that Google’s PageRank algorithm evaluates in order to estimate the importance of a page.
  • The ability of new content on a domain name to rank in Google search result
  • The length of time that the owner has been using the domain name for their business email addresses and the number of business cards distributed using the email addresses.
  • The on-going or periodic income that the domain name owner derives from the website or from incoming business emails
  • The value of the domain name to various third parties:
    • The domain name registration date may pre-date the trademark registration dates of several unrelated businesses who each now have a trademark registration for the word comprising the domain name.
    • The financial strength of each of the exact match trademark holders
    • Whether the domain name is generic to a broadly searched industry or product name
      • gymbag.com in 2007 sold for $29,420 to NetNames. It is a company that provides online brand protection, domain name management and acquisition services. And they still own it.
      • medicalstaff.com in 2007 sold for $18,000 to an established medical staffing business.
    • The value that the third parties may each derive from owning and using the domain name
  • The Alexa traffic rank
  • The Google page rank (not currently published by Google but available for pre-2014 domain names on third party services).

Search Volume

  • The average monthly exact match search stats on Google and other search engines
  • The average monthly broad match search stats on Google and other search engines
  • Host provider DNS of the domain name
  • Domain details
    • TLD: .com domain names are usually more valuable than matching .net, .org, .ca (ccTLDs), and new TLDs.
    • Keywords: One keyword is better than two or more keywords
    • Domain Length: 8 characters or less is better than longer domain names
    • Domain age: 7 years or longer is better
    • Domain with hyphens are not that valuable and are generally not used by established businesses in North America.
    • Domain with numbers are not that valuable and are generally not used by established businesses in North America.
    • Website IP: Hosting IP addresses may impact continent relevancy for search results.
    • DMOZ Listing: Whether the domain name is listed or not
    • MOZ Equity links


Most expensive domain names

The most expensive domain names are usually generic domain names. Occasionally, domains that match a trademark are sold at a premium, such as iCloud.com. See our article about the iCloud trademark.

  1. Insurance.com $35.6 million in 2010[1]
  2. VacationRentals.com $35 million in 2007 [2]
  3. PrivateJet.com $30.18 million in 2012[1]
  4. Internet.com $18 million in 2009[1]
  5. 360.com $17 million in 2015[3]
  6. Insure.com $16 million in 2009 [4]
  7. Fund.com 2008 £9.99 million[4]
  8. Sex.com for $14 million in November 2014[4][5]
  9. Hotels.com $11 million in 2001[1]
  10. Porn.com 2007 $9.5 million[4]
  11. Porno.com for $8,888,888 in Feb 2015[1]
  12. Fb.com by Facebook for $8.5 million in November 2010[6]
  13. Business.com for $7.5 million in December 1999[4]
  14. Diamond.com 2006 $7.5 million[4]
  15. Beer.com 2004 $7 million[4]
  16. iCloud.com by Apple Inc. for $6 million in March 2011[7]
  17. Israel.com for $5.88 million in May 2008[8]
  18. Casino.com 2003 $5.5 million[4]
  19. Slots.com 2010 for $5.5 million [9]
  20. Toys.com: Toys ‘R’ Us by auction for $5.1 million in 2009[4]
  21. AsSeenOnTv.com 2000 for $5.1 million [9]
  22. Clothes.com 2008 for $4.9 million [11]
  23. Medicare.com 2014 for $4.8 million [12]
  24. IG.com 2013 September for $4.6 million, acquired by IG Group from Internet Group Brazil [13]
  25. Marijuana.com 2011 for $4.2 million by WeedMaps, a subsidiary of General Cannabis Inc.[14]
  26. GiftCard.com by CardLab for $4 million in October 2012[15]
  27. Yp.com by YellowPages.com for $3.8 million in November 2008[16]
  28. Mi.com by Xiaomi for $3.6 million in April 2014[17]
  29. AltaVista.com for $3.3 million in August 1998
  30. Whisky.com for $3.1 million in December 2013[18]
  31. Vodka.com for $3.0 million in 2006 [19]
  32. Candy.com for $3.0 million in June 2009[20]
  33. Loans.com by Bank of America for $3.0 million in February 2000[21

In 2017, the most expensive domain names have been:
Sumo.com sold for $1.5 million in January 2017
Fashion.nyc sold for $37,000 in February 2017
Bitcoin.casino sold for $28,000 in February 2017 Casino Holding Inc created a site to show casinos that accept bitcoin payments.
NatureLab.com sold for $22,000 in February 2017
Kizen.com sold for $15,000
PeoplePower.org sold for $10,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union for the ACLU’s “new effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country and take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets.”

Domain Name Strategy

Try to register .com domain names and ccTLDs where you do business for keywords that match:

  • Your brands (with no hyphens),
  • One word domains relevant to your business,
  • Generic keywords,
  • Search terms,
  • Typos (Not so important with the advent of auto-complete in Google Chrome and FireFox),
  • Derivative names,
  • Defensive registration of abusive terms that comprise your keywords,
  • The Names of business subsidiaries and business units
  • SEO and search engines are heavily weighted on relevance

Startup Domain Name Price Guide by Name Ninja

startup domain name price guide

GoDaddy Valuation Engine

GoDaddy launched a valuation engine in 2017. The valuations that it provides seem to be wholesale values.
For example, Visa International Service Association bought visa cards .com for $10,000 in late 2017. On January 2, 2018, GoDaddy values the visa cards .com domain at $5,940 (USD).
VisaCards.com valuation by GoDaddy on 2018 Jan 2 screenshot
The site has no SEO value because it has no content. Oddly, it still shows the Network Solutions auto generated PPC links:
visacards.com screenshot taken on 2018 Jan 2
GoDaddy gave a domain valuation of $1420 USD for mbastaff.com on January 2, 2018. According to Name Ninja, a two-word .com should be worth $1500 to $50,000. Clearly GoDaddy needs to improve it’s domain valuation algorithm. MBA Staff could be the name of a high-end business staffing agency.
mbastaff.com domain valuation by GoDaddy on 2018 Jan 2 screenshot

Problems with Estibot valuations:

Estibot sometimes incorrectly categorizes a domain name’s use.
For example, in the case of mbastaff.com:
valuation of mbastaff.com
Estibot categorized mbastaff.com in the education category instead of the mba careers or staffing services categories. A more comparable domain such as medicalstaff.com sold for $18,000. And medistaff.com sold on a Godaddy Auction for $160,000 USD on 2013-09-17.
Estibot calculated the mbastaff.com domain value based on the sale price of other mba related educational information domain names.
Estibot still uses the Overture type-in score even though Overture doesn’t exist anymore.
Estibot incorrectly stated that the average monthly search stats on Google for “mba staff” is zero. And according to the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, the average monthly searches for all ideas is between 100K and 1M!
"mba staff" google adwords keyword planner average monthly search estimate as of 2017 January

Search Overview:
  Avg Search Results (keyword): 18,900
  Avg Search Results (sld): 5,890
  Avg Ad Count (keyword): 8
  Avg Ad Count (sld): 1
Traffic Rank:
  Alexa Traffic Rank: 0
  Google Page Rank:
Type-in Score:
  Overture (domain): 0
  Overture (sld): 0
  Overture (keyword):
  Word Tracker (keyword):


Average Monthly Search Stats – Broad Match – mba staff
  Monthly Searches: 1,091
  Cost Per Click: $8.94 USD
  Ad Competition: low
  Data Age: Recent
Average Monthly Search Stats – Exact Match – [mba staff]
  Monthly Searches: 0
  Cost Per Click: $0.00 USD
  Ad Competition: low
  Data Age: Recent
What’s the difference?   The search in [brackets], known as exact search, indicates the number of searches per month for the exact term ‘mba staff’. The broad match indicates the number of monthly searches for any term containing ‘mba staff’, for example ‘cheap mba staff’ or ‘get mba staff now’. We recommend using the exact search number as an indicator of search volume.
No active web site found for mbastaff.com. This domain does not resolve or redirects too many times.

Domain Name Auction Services

Popular domain name auction services include:    Fee Charged
Bido    %
GoDaddy Auctions    %
Namecheap    %
NameJet    %
Sedo    %
SnapNames    %

How Andrew Rosener Determines the Value of Generic Domain Names

Used the Google AdWords keyword tool to get the average number of people who type in the keywords comprising a generic domain name every month.  Then multiply that average monthly search volume by the CPC x 12 or x 36 months, to determine the present value of a domain name.